The Calm After the Storm
After Boulder, Colo., recently received a year’s worth of precipitation over two days, its citizens wanted nothing but a return to normalcy. That’s what Rallysport Health and Fitness has provided in the weeks since the flooding disaster.
As a survivor itself, Rallysport has a background story that allows it to relate to its members suffering from flooded homes, loss of personal property and a general upside-down quality to their lives.
Rallysport Health and Fitness actually began 35 years ago, primarily as a racquetball club. Since, it has expanded to offer everything from yoga and personal training, to aquatics and small group training. As a locally-owned club, Rallysport has had to compete with big-name box gyms in a city that has become fitness-crazed.
“It’s definitely been a challenge in the last few years,” said Erin Carson, Rallysport’s general manager, who has been at the club in some capacity for 23 years. “In 2009 we started having to compete with the big, $8 million wellness clubs that would open up right down the street. But it’s like looking at scouting reports in sports. You have to figure out what your competition is doing and then find the core principles of what makes you really good. For us, that’s hospitality, expertise and vision. We anticipate the needs of our clients in the future and how we can take care of them.”
Since 2009, when several big-name health clubs entered the Boulder market, Rallysport has tailored its focus to its key demographic — those in the 35- to 65-year-old range. The club has focused on the relationships it has with its clients and how it can help each individual. Those relationships have become even more imperative in the past few weeks, after Boulder’s disastrous weather conditions in September 2013.
After seeing the weather forecasts predicting intensely heavy rainfall, Carson and other staff members stayed at the gym overnight in anticipation for what they would have to do to preserve the club. The staff bailed out water from the first floor of the building as fast as they could, but the club still suffered about five or six inches of flooding on that floor alone.
“We called in a bunch of staff, and I had to go unlock the door for them,” Carson said. “When I went to unlock the door, a couple of members were outside in the parking lot, and they came in — in the middle of the night — and helped us mitigate the water for three hours. They didn’t have to do that.”
Even with everyone’s hard work, the club suffered damage, especially in its childcare room and yoga studio. New flooring will have to be installed after the water buckled the original floors. Mold, however, is not an issue, according to Carson, because of how quickly the staff was able to get the water out of the building.
Rallysport was closed for two days after the initial flooding, mainly due to the road closings in and around Boulder that prevented members from getting to the gym. “That was on a Thursday and Friday when we had to close,” said Carson. “We opened again that weekend, and people who had been up for two days straight came to the gym. Maybe they just wanted a nice workout or a long swim. But maybe they needed a hot shower too, after they couldn’t take one at their own house. We ended up really providing a strong base of community and a place of normalcy and comfort.”
Members also brought in items to donate to those who had been affected the most by the flooding – from jackets to food, Rallysport members banded together when they needed it the most.
In response to the flooding in Boulder, Rallysport has represented the main principles of a locally-owned health club: one-on-one relationships with clients and a steady, helping hand when members need it. Members see those principles and stick around, allowing Rallysport to compete with those national chain gyms right down the road.
“I’m also a trainer in addition to being the general manager,” said Carson. “I was very surprised at how many of my clients didn’t want to miss a training session right after the flooding happened. It just speaks to the value they place on their trainer and the gym. We’re just really close to our members, and I think that’s very unique.”
By Ashley Scoby